Wednesday 24 November 2010

The Roaches

The Roaches is a gritstone escarpment, situated in the Staffordshire Moorlands and rising to a height of 1,657 feet. The name comes from the French les roches, meaning the rocks, and the ridge marks the south-western edge of the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park.

The whole ridge, along with other gritstone formations across the Peak, is the result of prehistoric river deltas which laid down sand and grit over the limestone sea bed. Eventually, these became covered over with mud and coal and then compressed over millions of years to form the harder gritstone rock. With the moving of the tectonic plates, England was pushed up out of this sea and erosion did the rest, leaving exposed edges and outcrops of the harder millstone grit.

At the end of The Roaches, separated by a col, is Hen Cloud, which rises steeply above the surrounding land, making a particularly dramatic statement and revealing the layering from when the first rocks were formed, around 300 million years ago.

The Roaches provide some of the best gritstone climbing in the country, which explains why, during reading week, eldest son Mark and a group of fellow climbers came all of the way here from Cumbria; though I did splutter down the phone a bit when he told me that, having just gone all the way up to the Lakes for uni, he was trekking back to home turf to climb! 

Besides, it gave him the opportunity to spend a couple of days at home after they'd done :)

At The Roaches stayed in Rock Cottage, a tiny house built originally as a gamekeeper's home and now converted into a climbing hut, owned by the British Mountaineering Council. It is just visible behind Mark, up through the trees on the edge of the photo.

And, looking the other way, is Tittesworth Reservoir, constructed between 1959 and 1963, to supply water for Leek and Stoke on Trent.

Incidentally, if anyone has a few spare millions lying around, The Roaches are up for sale. Currently the whole Roaches Estate is owned by the Peak National Park, but it is not normal practice for Park Authorities to own land, so they are looking for a buyer. It'd just better be someone who wants to care for the area, not exploit it!


  1. What a superb region. like you I hope it remains unspoiled

  2. Super photos! I hope one or two organisations join together to buy - maybe National Trust, RSPB, Staffordshire Wildlife all working together to keep the area just as it is now:)

  3. Beautiful area. In Amerca, the country owns land to ensure its preservation. States do the same thing. Funny how it's the reverse in the UK.